Your 9-Month-Old Baby's Development and Milestones

9-month-old Baby:

Life's a Party With Finger Food!

Your baby is becoming more and more mobile, perhaps even crawling by now—and you couldn’t be prouder of the progress they’re making. There are so many things happening this month, including improvements in your baby’s ability to eat solids and the way they can use their fingers. Read on to find out more about the developmental milestones to look out for when it comes to your 9-month-old baby, and the kinds of eating and sleeping habits you might see at this stage.

Baby Development Milestones

By now you know how much your baby enjoys playtime—especially if it’s with you! And you’ll have seen how much they’re growing and changing. There is no hard and fast rule about what a 9-month-old baby “should” be doing at this stage, but these are some of the development milestones you might notice around this time.

Growth and Physical Development: Does Your Baby’s Belly Stick Out?

All babies grow at their own rate. At your next healthcare visit, your baby’s provider will track your 9-month-old baby’s weight, length, and head circumference using the infant growth charts to make sure their growth is on track.

When your baby begins standing (whether it’s now or in the next few months), you might notice that their belly and bottom both stick out a little. This posture might look a little odd, but it's perfectly normal for this stage of development. Their alignment will correct itself when their balance improves and they become more confident walkers—probably during their second year.

Senses: Let Your Baby Follow Their Nose

At this stage, all your baby's senses help them learn about their world. To help your baby explore their sense of smell, introduce them to new and different scents. For example, go outside and let them smell flowers or fresh-cut grass. Let them take in the scents of various types of foods, objects, and materials you find indoors, too. Just make sure whatever you introduce is safe for them to smell.

Movement: Picking Up New Experiences!

Around this time your baby might figure out how to roll onto their tummy from a seated position and get back up again. All these motions are strengthening their muscles in preparation for eventually being able to walk.

At 9 months old, your baby may or may not be crawling. Or they may be doing something similar to crawling like scooting on their bottom or slithering on their tummy. Some babies skip crawling altogether, while others master it a little later.

Your baby’s hand and finger skills (fine motor skills) are also coming along. For example, they will probably have mastered the raking grasp, meaning they’re able to reach out and pull objects toward them. Now, they’re working on developing what’s called the pincer movement or the pincer grasp—the ability to pick up and hold things between the thumb and forefinger.

Your baby is gaining better control of their fingers and hands as they play with objects and begin to feed themselves. They’ll pick things up, shake them, bang them, and throw them, delighting in the noise they’re making as items crash to the floor. For this reason, too, make sure that whatever they have to play with is safe and unbreakable.

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Cognitive Development: Life’s Simple Pleasures

Your baby has a very short attention span and may be interested in playing with a toy for only a few minutes before wanting the next fascinating object. You don’t need to buy brand-new toys for your 9-month-old baby, though. They’ll be just as happy with basic household items like cereal boxes or plastic tubs.

The key may be this: Your baby will enjoy playing with things that are just a little different from what they already know and are familiar with. In fact, if something is too new and different, they might feel frightened or overwhelmed by it. So, as an example, if your little one loves playing with a cereal box you could put a ball in it or add a string to it so that they can pull the box along.

Another of life’s simple pleasures for your baby could be the humble mirror. While in past months your little one may not have been able to recognize their own reflection (perhaps they perceived it to be another baby or simply a magic show) now they might be reacting to their own reflection in a way that indicates they know they are seeing themselves.

For example, while looking in the mirror they may grab a strand of hair or try to rub something off their chin. Reinforce this “self-image” by playing with them in front of the mirror: Touch and say the names of different parts of their body or make different facial expressions and tell them what kind of face you’re making.

Have you noticed how perceptive your baby is? At 9 months old your baby can read the emotions on your face. That being the case, try to keep strong negative emotions at bay; instead, provide your baby with consistent and warm contact, so that they feel secure and loved, not overwhelmed and upset.

Tips and Activities for Supporting Your 9-Month-Old Baby’s Development

Here are some things to do with your 9-month-old to promote their healthy growth and development at this stage:

  • Spend time on the floor playing with your baby. If your baby is already crawling, one fun idea is to create an obstacle course with pillows, boxes, and cushions for them to crawl over and between. Dangle an enticing object just beyond their reach to coax them into crawling toward it.

  • Wait before offering help. Knowing when to help your child and when to let them figure out how to do something for themselves is a tricky balance. Say they’re playing with a toy, but it rolls under a pillow, do you help them get it out or let them try? If you can tell they’re frustrated, then perhaps help them, but if they see the situation as a challenge and are still working on retrieving the toy, then let them keep trying.

  • Talk, read, and sing. Chat with your baby every chance you get, describing what you're doing as you go about daily activities such as dressing and feeding them. Read to them every day and consider making a bedtime story part of your nightly ritual. Singing is important too—try to include songs and nursery rhymes that incorporate gestures and finger play.

  • Give your baby the chance to meet other babies and their parents.Your 9-month-old baby’s social milestones may include meeting others. But be aware that your baby may feel uncomfortable around new people. Give them time to warm up to new people and situations.

Feeding Your 9-Month-Old Baby

Around this time, about half of your baby’s daily calories might come from soft table foods and purees, with about the other half coming from breast milk or formula. Wondering about how often “should” an 8-month-old eat? Your baby’s feeding schedule would ideally include three main meals a day with two snacks in between those meals.

And what can a 9-month-old eat?They may be able to help themselves to finger foods, such as small pieces of steamed vegetables or soft banana. You could also offer them a small spoon with a little yogurt on it so that they can try to move it toward their mouth.

During self-feeding, much of your baby’s food will end up on the table or floor, or on their face or clothes, so don’t expect them to be able to feed themselves a complete meal just yet. Always supervise your baby when they’re trying to eat and don’t give them big chunks of food, or any small hard foods; at this stage, they may swallow without chewing, and bigger pieces can be a choking hazard.

Here’s an example of a daily menu for your 9-month-old including both baby food and breast milk or formula. It also gives you an idea of approximately how much to give your 9-month-old.

How Much Sleep Does a 9-Month-Old Baby Need?

How many hours “should” a 9-month-old sleep? And how many naps are needed? At this age, babies typically sleep about 10 to 12 hours at night, and take about 2 naps during the day, usually mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

By this stage your baby probably won’t be needing a middle-of-the-night feed but may wake up at night if they feel anxious about where you are. They might suck their thumb to cope or snuggle with a comfort item such as a small blanket.

If you hear your baby cry, go to them and briefly reassure them that all is well. Of course, you should always check that your baby is comfortable and not sick, but if everything seems OK, resist turning on the light and picking them up. The key is to calmly and consistently reassure them that you’ll be there if they need you, and slowly teach them that they can sleep peacefully without worrying that you’re not there.

To help you track your 9-month-old’s nap and sleep schedule, download the Smart Sleep Coach app by Pampers. Co-created by pediatricians and sleep experts, this easy-to-use app can come in handy when sleep training or when encountering difficulties like sleep regression.

A Day in the Life of Your 9-Month-Old Baby

A typical 9-month-old baby’s daily schedule could include sleeping, feeding, eating, bathing, and playing. Here’s just one example of what a day in your baby’s life might look like:

Your Baby’s Health

Sun protection is crucial for your baby’s skin. In the warmer months it’s natural to want to go outside with your baby, but always remember that too much time in the sun can damage skin. In fact, harmful UV rays can cause damage even in the cooler months, so these sun protection tips are important to follow year-round:

  • Aim to keep your baby out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when it’s at its strongest.

  • Dress your baby in lightweight cotton clothes that cover much of the skin. Think long sleeves and long pants.

  • Use a beach umbrella as shade when playing outside and pull the shade cover down on the stroller during walks.

  • Pop a wide-brimmed hat on your baby.

  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on your baby's skin about half an hour before you head outside. Reapply it at least every two hours.

  • If your baby does get sunburned, help ease the discomfort by placing a cool washcloth on the affected areas or bathing your little one in cool water. Burns that blister may need medical attention, so ask your baby’s healthcare provider for advice.

Along with sun protection and skin care, other health concerns to be aware of include whooping cough and middle ear infections.

  • Whooping cough. Also known as pertussis, whooping cough is a bacterial infection that results in inflamed airways. It causes severe coughing that may have a “whooping” sound, particularly in older children. Babies in their first year are at the greatest risk of whooping cough developing into something more severe, so prompt medical care is required. Contact your baby’s healthcare provider right away if your baby develops a cough that becomes more severe or if they become exhausted after coughing. Also contact your provider ASAP if your baby is short of breath, if they have bluish lips or fingertips, or if they drool or vomit from coughing. Follow the healthcare provider’s treatment plan, keeping in mind it may be a few weeks or even months before the cough clears.

  • Middle ear infections. Two-thirds of all children come down with an ear infection by the time they are 2 years old. At 9 months old your baby can’t tell you with words that their ear hurts, but they might show you in other ways. For example, they may cry during feedings because sucking and swallowing causes pain in the middle ear. They may also have trouble sleeping or develop a fever. You might see blood-tinged fluid or pus come from the infected ear. Or you might notice theydon’t seem to hear as well. Middle ear infections are most common during the cooler months. Contact your baby’s healthcare provider if you suspect a problem. The provider will suggest a treatment plan, which may include antibiotics. If your baby is prescribed antibiotics, ensure they take the whole course and don’t stop giving the medication even if your baby seems better.

Items You Will Need This Month

On the lookout for some baby gear this month? Here are some items that might come in handy:

  • Sippy cups. If you haven’t already, now’s a good time to introduce your baby to a sippy cup or straw cup. A cup with two handles will be the easiest for your baby to hold at first.

  • Baby toys. At 9 months old, your baby will have fun with things like stacking cups, building blocks, an unbreakable mirror, push-pull toys, or even an empty box or a paper towel tube.

  • Play mat. A play mat can provide a soft and comfortable place for your baby to play. Many of them also include hanging toys and other features to capture your baby's attention.

  • Diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream. Make sure to have plenty of diapers and wipes on hand so you don't run out, as well as some diaper rash cream.

  • Baby toothbrush. Your 9-month-old baby may have a few teeth by this point. Try introducing a soft-bristled toothbrush and use just a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste. Eventually they’ll get used to the feeling of having their teeth brushed.

Your Life as a Parent: How to Plan a Baby-Friendly Vacation

Are you thinking about a family trip? You might feel anxious about traveling with a baby in tow, but this is completely doable—and lots of fun! Here are some tips to make your trip a success:

  • Choose a destination that's relaxing and safe, so you feel less overwhelmed. It may help to go somewhere you’ve been before and feel comfortable with.

  • Don’t create a jam-packed itinerary. Instead, add lots of down time and rest to your vacation plans.

  • Think about where your baby will sleep. Will you use a portable bed? If so, it may help to let them have a few naps in it before you head off so theyhave a chance to get used to it.

  • Try to mimic home in the ways you can. For example, perhaps follow a similar daily routine or take your baby’s favorite toy to give them comfort.

  • Pack a travel diaper bag with extras of things like clothes, diapers, snacks, and water.

  • If you’re going on a plane, read this article on flying with a baby for great ideas on tackling this with your baby.

  • Even though it’s easier said than done, try to stay calm. If you take on an easygoing attitude and you’re having a good time, your baby will be more likely to do the same.

Checklist for This Month

  • Schedule your 9-month-old baby’s checkup. At these visits your baby’s healthcare provider will ensure your baby is eating and sleeping well and meeting growth and development milestones. The provider will also check that you as the parent are doing OK and offer guidance on timely issues. Use this opportunity to ask questions and get advice if needed..

  • Secure the furniture. Right about now or during the next few months, your baby will start to pull themselves up to stand. Their arm muscles are stronger than their leg muscles, so they will probably cling onto furniture for support. Now is the best time to concentrate on babyproofing your home, including securing furniture to the walls or removing any furniture that might topple over.

  • Lower the mattress in your baby’s crib. Before your baby can stand on their own, lower the mattress to the lowest setting possible.

  • Sign up for rewards. Are you getting fantastic rewards for all those diapers you’re buying? If not, it’s time to download the Pampers Club app.

  • Start looking ahead. Check out what kinds of things may happen when your baby is 10 months old. To celebrate and share the news with friends and family, download and print these milestone cards.

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How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.